Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when external physical forces cause damage to the brain, whether from impact, penetrating objects, blast waves or rapid movement of the brain within the skull. TBI severity has been classified as mild, moderate or severe based primarily on the Glasgow Coma Scale in combination with an assessment of periods of loss/alterations of consciousness and imaging scans of the brain. The classification of mild TBI also includes concussion, commonly defined as a transient alteration of brain function after exposure to external physical forces. While short-term TBI can be life threatening in some cases, TBI also can have long-term sequelae including cognitive dysfunction, pain, sleep disorders and physical disability collectively known as the post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS results when various symptoms of TBI last weeks, months or more than a year following the TBI incident. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a delayed neurodegenerative disorder that was initially identified in postmortem brains and, research-to-date suggests, is caused in part by repeated traumatic brain injuries. NINDS supports ongoing efforts to refine diagnostic criteria for both CTE (postmortem diagnosis) and the associated Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome (TES; diagnosis in the living).
The TBI program at NINDS provides support and funds to extramural researchers studying basic, clinical and translational TBI research. NINDS-funded research includes studies to understand mechanisms of TBI and its sequelae, preclinical and clinical studies for diagnosis, prognosis, potential therapeutics, and other aspects of TBI.
Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories
|Research/Disease Areas*||FY 2013
|Injury - Traumatic Brain Injury||$88||$87||$93||$105||$116||$133||$134||$179||$184||$192|
*Dollars in millions and rounded
To learn more about this NIH Investment, please visit the Categorical Spending site and enter "Injury - Traumatic Brain Injury".
Sharing TBI Data
NINDS strongly encourages researchers who receive funding from the Institute to use these common data elements (CDEs) in their clinical research.
- TBI specific CDEs can be found at: NINDS CDE for Traumatic Brain Injury
- A comprehensive list of CDEs from across NIH can be found at the National Library of Medicine (NLM)’s NIH CDE repository
- Utilizations of CDEs for reporting both clinical and preclinical findings is a good practice that will help researchers in compliance with data sharing tools in the future.
- NIH will implement the Data Management and Sharing Policy in 2023.
For more information, please visit:
Data Sharing repositories supported by NINDS
- Clinical data: FITBIR (FITBIR Data Sharing Policy)
The Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) Informatics System is an extensible, scalable informatics platform for TBI relevant data (medical imaging, clinical assessment, environmental and behavioral history, etc.) and for all data types (text, numeric, image, time series, etc.). FITBIR was developed to share data across the entire TBI research field and to facilitate collaboration between laboratories, as well as interconnectivity with other informatics platforms. Sharing data, methodologies, and associated tools, rather than summaries or interpretations of this information, can accelerate research progress by allowing re-analysis of data, as well as re-aggregation, integration, and rigorous comparison with other data, tools, and methods. This community-wide sharing requires common data definitions and standards, as well as comprehensive and coherent informatics approaches.
The FITBIR Informatics System is a database developed by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health to share data, associated tools and methodologies. NINDS has specific FITBIR requirements for larger Clinical Research studies.
- Preclinical Data: ODC-TBI
In partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD), the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) has led efforts to develop standards for preclinical research data in TBI. Experts in preclinical TBI research from academia were invited to participate in TBI Preclinical Working Groups with the goal of developing TBI common data elements (CDEs) for preclinical research and to establish guidance for the utilization of preclinical CDEs in TBI research. The outcomes of these working groups have been reported by Smith et al. 2015 and LaPlaca et al. 2021. NINDS is continuing to lead these efforts for preclinical CDE development and refinement in partnership with the DoD and Veterans Affairs (VA) through the VA-funded interagency resource center PRECISE-TBI.
The primary objective for developing preclinical CDEs is to produce a well-defined lexicon for describing and reporting how preclinical data are collected with the goal of enhancing rigor, reproducibility and transparency in study performance. The goal of CDEs is to develop a tool to improve standardization of data collection such that experimental details and procedures are reported in a standard transparent manner that allows for rigor and reproducibility. Additionally, it is important for data to be collected, reported and curated in a standardized manner and format that will allow TBI researchers to share data across sites and reuse data for either secondary analyses or big data analyses.
Preclinical TBI researchers are referred to utilize the interagency resource center known as PRE Clinical Interagency reSearch resourcE-TBI (PRECISE-TBI) center and to house their data in the Open Data Commons – Traumatic Brain Injury (ODC-TBI) repository.
Related Federal Programs
- NFL Grant for TBI
- The Administration for Community Living (ACL) for Traumatic Brain Injury
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion and Heads UP
- Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program (PH/TBIRP)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Rehabilitation R&D Services for Traumatic Brain Injury
- National Research Action Plan
- Focus on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias at NINDS
Proceedings & Outcomes
- Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) 2022 Summit [Video Day1 & Day 2]
March 22 - 23, 2022 | Virtual Meeting
- TBI related session on Day 2: MED Special Topic: Post-TBI AD/ADRD
- TBI related session on Day 2: MED Special Topic: Post-TBI AD/ADRD
- Third Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) Stakeholders Meeting
July 19, 2021 |NIH Videocast
- The Neuropathological Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): Next Steps [Video Day 1 & Day 2]
November 6-7, 2019 | Bethesda, MD
- International Initiative For Traumatic Brain Injury Research (InTBIR) 2019 [Video Day 1 & Day 2]
October 24-25, 2019 | Bethesda, MD
- Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury in Women [Summary(pdf, 613 KB)] [Video Day 1 & Day 2]
December 18-19, 2017 | Bethesda, MD
- InTBIR 2017 [Summary(pdf, 538 KB)]
October 30-31, 2017 | Rockville, MD
- Environmental Sensor use for Quantifying Neural Exposure to Inertial and Blast Forces [Summary(pdf, 316 KB)]
National Neurotrauma Society Ancillary Symposium
July 8, 2017 | Snowbird, UT
- Pediatric Concussion Workshop [Video Day 1 & Day 2]
October 13-14, 2016 | North Bethesda, MD
- Report: Sports & Health Research Stakeholders Meeting
March 31, 2015
- Report from the First NIH Consensus Conference to Define the Neuropathological Criteria for the Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Resources and Tools
To receive regular updates on funding announcements and other opportunities, please join the NINDS TBI Research Listserv.
News & Events
NINDS TBI Classification and Nomenclature Workshop in Bethesda, MD - January 22-23, 2024
NINDS workshops at the 2023 Neurotrauma meeting in Austin, TX- June 25-28, 2023
National Research Action Plan(pdf, 2874 KB)
- Executive Order: Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families (August 31, 2012)
Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR)
The FITBIR Informatics System is a database developed by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health to share data, associated tools and methodologies. NINDS has specific FITBIR Requirements for larger Clinical Research studies.
InTBIR is a cooperative international effort to coordinate clinical research activities, increase data sharing, and leverage global research opportunities.